Number of UK citizens applying for Irish passports soars since Brexit vote

Posted On: 
18th December 2017

The number of Britons applying for Irish passports has soared since last year’s EU referendum vote, new statistics have revealed.

Passport control at Dublin airport
Credit: 
PA

More than 162,000 people have applied, taking advantage of rules that mean anyone with an Irish parent or grandparent can get a passport and citizenship if they wish.

This year’s figure is a huge increase on the 92,000 UK applicants recorded in 2014.

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Almost half of the applications came from people in Northern Ireland, where being born in the province confers the right to an Irish passport.

If successful they will then retain the right to free movement within the EU that comes from the Republic being a member of the bloc.

Among those who have applied for an Irish passport is "angry pro-European" Tory MEP Charles Tannock, whose grandmother was born in Dublin in 1895.

Labour MP Ian Murray, a support of campaign group Open Britain, said the surge in applications was a clear consequence of the Brexit process.

“Given the damaging impact that Brexit is already having on our country, it is understandable that people are looking for ways to retain their EU citizenship and the many rights, whether in terms of freedom to travel, work or study, that come with it.

“The destructive Brexit path being pursued by this Government is already costing us billions, shredding our international reputation and endangering the hard-won rights of our citizens. And under current plans, it could soon be the case that UK citizens born in Northern Ireland have more rights than citizens born in the rest of the UK, endangering the future balance of the Union.

“With new facts like these coming to light every day, and as Brexit becomes increasingly bogged down in bureaucratic wrangling, people have every right to question whether it’s the right path for the country, and to change their minds if they so choose.”

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake seized on the news, saying:

"This is the strongest evidence so far of how many Brits value EU membership and gives the lie to the Prime Minister's claim that Britain was never comfortable in the EU.

“There is still time for the Prime Minister to give people a Vote on the Deal and an Exit from Brexit."